Pierre Vincent, general manager of Domaine Leflaive, recounts a year 2021 marked by the effects of a formidable frost and the possible solutions to combat it in the future.
The April frost had a strong impact on the 2021 harvest. How was this episode different from the previous ones?
Since 2016, we have experienced an episode of freezing every year. The one from April 6-8, 2021 was very powerful. Most importantly, we had experienced very high heat in the last week of March - the vines had then started to bud after an already mild winter. Going rapidly from + 25 ° C to -7 ° C was a major shock - the plant tissues froze and the snow accentuated the burns. Unfortunately, the entire estate's holdings were affected, mitigated to some extent in the plots which we had massively protected with candles.
What are the solutions to fight against freezing?
Several levers must be pulled. Delaying the start of the vineyard growth requires later pruning, but we cannot apply it to the full 25 ha of the domaine. The direct fight against frost will still be done by candles, wind turbines and heating cables. There is a collective reflection of all the owners in Montrachet to adopt this last solution on the 8 ha of this specific appellation. For the future, finding later-developing rootstocks may also be an option, but this option would be exercised in a span of 15 to 20 years.
Were the 2021 harvests special?
They were later than what we had experienced for several years, almost exceptional compared to the norm of recent early harvests linked to global warming. Then, we were very careful with the pressing, setting aside the beginnings and ends of the press to keep the heart of the juice. This should give a very classic, fairly concentrated vintage, with good freshness and good maturity. Ultimately, all the vines' energy went to the few grapes that were left.